OMFG, I am having the worst, worst, worst time with Skyrim right now. I found a couple more hours to play the other day, and I really couldn’t stand it, and I mean everything about it. The insufferable quest that I couldn’t figure out, my character, Lydia, all the annoying NPCs, my inability to navigate, all of it. I’ve barely made the tiniest of dents in the game and I am about ready to give up *sigh*.
This ordeal has me severely questioning my current relationship with video games, so much so that it’s given me a week-long headache (or maybe it’s just allergies). Allow me a few thoughts to clear my head…
I’ll readily admit that I’m not the world’s biggest sports fan. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy sports generally, whether playing or watching. I’ve certainly partaken in some fun times that revolved around a softball game, badminton, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, etc.; and I’ve seen my fair share of sports on TV, be it the Superbowl, a skateboarding competition, or a college basketball game. (I actually used to be a huge MLB fan, until the strike of 1994…smh.) So, it kinda goes without saying that my history with sports video games is a short one. While I tried my hand at several Madden football games (I think 10 was that last one we had), and left all the skateboarding games to my fiancé, the only one that I put any amount of time into actually playing was Nintendo’s Tecmo Super Bowl (1991).
During the summer between my sophomore and junior years in college, between stints at random part-time jobs and a bunch of other games, I played the most fantastic and greatest computer game I had played since beating the crap out of evil monsters in DOOM: Sam & Max: Hit the Road (1993).
As much as I’d like to spend an entire post extolling the virtues Sam and Max (I thought twice about abbreviating them “S&M,” though that would have made for an interesting post), I don’t know that there are enough words in the English language to describe just how great this game actually is. I mean, where else exists a detective/vigilant pair of straight-laced, joyfully demented, and keenly observant figures as Sam and Max? Together they wreak havoc yet still manage to solve crimes. They’re like Criminal Minds meets Ren and Stimpy meets a seedy 1950s-esque noire meets Seinfeld. A pretty fantastic combination if you ask me.
After the super-fun-but-not-quite-life-altering experience of Fable 2, I was prepared continue the journey with Fable 3. I pre-ordered the game in October 2010, just a few weeks before it was released and traded in Fable 2 to help with the proceeds. As with the previous Fable games, Peter Molyneux offered some revolutionary words about Fable 3’s brilliance. I get that he kinda saw the whole series as some sort of Shakespearean epic replete with the underpinnings of what all is so “human” about human nature, but honestly, that rose is still a rose and sometimes a game is just a game.
Several years back, I had the privilege of spending an extended vacation (let’s call it “grad school”) in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the “grad school” years, we had a good bit of time to enjoy the environment and various locales of the fantabulous place that is northern California. One day in late 2003, we took a heady trip into San Francisco’s city proper to visit what we had heard was its entertainment and shopping mecca: The Metreon. (I can’t bear to link to it…now it’s called the Metreon Mall, ugh. Boo, SF) It had an IMAX theatre, places to eat, stuff to buy, things to see, and, most importantly, a place to game. Well…a place to game Sony’s way, that is. The Metreon was the brainchild of Sony as a way to get its products out to the people. And so it was that at the Metreon I was introduced to a little game called Kingdom Hearts.
Following up on my DKC post, and upon further pondering of that feeling of awesome newness accompanying a unique game, I couldn’t help but write about the second time it happened, just a few years back with Media Molecule’s gem LittleBigPlanet (LBP).
The hype accompanying this game was like none that I can recall in recent times. (Of course, now e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g seems to be accompanied by some sort of hype – Think you’re lazy? Wanna prove it?? Then just throw on the Forever Lazy and see what the world thinks about you then!!! – so maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal.) But even among the compendium of great games of the late 2000s, LBP stuck out just a little more than the rest, probably because if the insanely cute title character, Sackboy.
LBP is a fantastic, phenomenal, and inventive game. Yes, there’s a story, but I was too busy playing the game with stars in my happy rainbow eyes to pay much attention to it. The controls are fairly easy to master and the play is solid and the levels aren’t incredibly difficult, but they are challenging at certain points. And there was so, so, so much stuff to find and gather! Stickers! Clothing! Accessories! “Skins!” It was like my idyllic elementary school collecting days – stickers or My Little Ponies – thems were my crack.
Anyway, we picked up the game upon it’s release in 2008 and were seriously looking forward to it. Though, we couldn’t help but hold a little dread — even though the bad, bad memories of Cookie and Cream should have been long gone by then, they weren’t. Had we matured in the seven or so years since that incident? We would certainly find out. (Short answer: yes…a little.)
After playing a few two-player rounds and not actually killing each other in the living room, we figured we were good to go for the rest of the game. We quickly realized though that LBP, as fun as it is for one or two players, held many secrets that required three or four people. Well, since our cat had yet to grow opposable thumbs and develop the capacity for higher learning (c’mon, kitty, get with it!), we had to go online.
SCREEEEEEEEEECHHHH (That’s me hitting the brakes.) Hmm. No online for me, thank you very much. Even though many an invite or request had popped up while playing LBP, I couldn’t bear the thought of playing with hunnysweets037 or BlAcKkNiGhT or jesuswasaracecardriver, no offense intended.
I don’t want to diverge too far off course, but here’s the thing. Besides the fact that I’m not really a social butterfly (or mosquito, depending on your point of view), there’s one big reason I can’t and won’t play video games with random people online – they will all surely hate me.
“Aww. No they won’t,” you say,” it’s super fun and helps build skills and levels up your character.”
That may be true, but the online community will have no patience with me. Trust me.
Why? Well while it’s not true for every game, the fact is that in a lot of games where I have choices, I will take my sweet, sweet time perusing choices, particularly, and sneer all you friggin’ want, when it comes to accoutrements. Clothing. Apparel. Gear. Call it what you wish, but some weird Barbie Doll complex combined with a once-belief that I’d someday become a fashion designer has instilled in me a need to refine and alter my characters ad nauseum. I’m a terribly visual person, and when my characters look bad, I’ll go out of my way to make them look better. It happened in GTA IV, ME1 (ME2 not so much), Dragon Age, Fable, and others, where I probably dedicated at least 30-40% of my time to changing my characters clothes/armor/weapons, making them look better or fight better depending on the game’s and my eyeball’s needs. (There were some ugly-ass armors in ME1 that, though strong, I’d never have put on my girl.) I’ve gotten better about this obsession over the past, but I’ve seen how my fiancé has reacted to this, particularly with LBP, and those daggers he shoots me when I’m taking too long…well, I just know that that most in the gaming community will react the same way. I know my quirks as a gamer and don’t feel the need to subject random people to them. So you’re welcome that I’m not online.
However *heavy sigh* yes, we did eventually go online – but not with anyone random. The group was me, my fiancé, and one of his online friends – a good friend that we know exists in real life. And y’know what? It was…gripe, grumble…fun. Yes, yes it was. We got through so many levels and found all the little secrets that required at least three players. However, at the end of every level I HAD to check out all the new stuff we had acquired and change outfits at least once. The boys got very bored with me very quickly, so I had to motor on with my teddy-fairy-robot Sackgirl, despite the fact that she would have looked so cute in those little secretary glasses we just got!
It’s a problem. I know. I’m dealing with it. It might be ADD. Or maybe it just, y’know, a girl thing.
But more likely it’s ADD; but I’m faaaar beyond Ritalin at this point, so suck it up world!
Anyway, I don’t need to reiterate any more than what been written about LBP being a phenomenal game. It’s a real “party” game, provided that your game mates have at least a little patience when you really want to make your Sackgirl look like an Arabian knight. The same is true for Little Big Planet 2 – fun, fun, and more fun.
Both LBP and LBP2 are on our game shelf. I have to throw LBP2 back in the line-up over the summer because we still have many lands to conquer.
But LBP…oh man…
*voice cracks* For three years now LBP has been in the wings and not sold because it remains to be “beaten,” i.e. main story completed. *hangs head in shameful shame* I just can’t get past one particular part in one particular level, and it’s soooooo close to the end too. *sob*
The Bunker. The one with all the electric obstacles. That large, multi-leveled wheel at the end….grrrr. I’ve seen the videos, I’ve read the “helpful hints,” I know it can be done. But. Every. Goddamn. Time. I. Try. I Die. It’s pretty much THE most maddening things I’ve experience in a game, ever.
It’s so easy, you say, just do A, B, C, and then voila! I can’t convey enough that I’ve done A, B, C, and X, Y, Z, and Fuck, You, LBP, so many times over that beating the game feels so very hopeless. But y’know how sometimes, when you’re completely stuck in a game, that if you put it away for an indefinite period then return to it, you usually get past the stuck part without any problems? Well may, just maybe, if I went and played the game right now, I’d get through that level easily. Hmmm….
It’s a familiar game to most and beloved by many; and DKC set Rare on the map of development titans (at least for a little while). It was the first “3D” game I ever played. (Well, it was rendered with 3D graphics, but it was still a side-scroller.) We got the game at Christmas 94 or 95 (maybe 96? The 90s are really just a lump of strange and obnoxious and awesome), and I could hardly believe my bedazzled eyes.
When time flies it moves at warp speed. We just celebrated our one-month anniversary in our new house (squee!). We are also 11 weeks out from the wedding. Did I mention that “my fiancé” will soon become “my husband”? I know you’re like um, yeah, whatevs…games? But seriously, 11 weeks is not a lot of time considering that I have to work, play house, plan, and try to maintain a modicum of calmness throughout. Honestly, I still think about video games; I really do. Maybe, someday, I’ll get to play them again. Reading other blogs has helped me stay connected and remain grounded when everything else feels so up in the air. Many thanks to the gaming blogosphere for keeping me in the loop and entertained!
Now on with it, shall we…?
Since a lot of (happy) crap seems to be piling up in my life right now, why not recall a game that was, indeed, a pile of (unhappy) crap. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.